We looked at what DreamWorks stories had in common: the thread of exceptionalism and vision in the face of adversity and surface reads (Shrek, How to Train Your Dragon, etc), and then we started talking about Steve Jobs. We quickly realized that every 'brand' store probably had some founder that thought differently. We crafted DreamWorks style treatments around each founder - recasting them and making each store in the mall a trip into a DreamWorks property. Workshops would allow for kids to be exposed to new ways of seeing the world. Stores would be grouped not by anchor but by lessons kids could learn.
We also examined if the mall itself could become a meta-story. A real life ARG. An intersection of the metaverse would have 'ripples' represented in the mall with cast characters not being able to cross over - and where these ripples intersected real stores - they would be fictional version of these stores - with in-world merchandise and themes - it would become the DreamWorks version of the Wizarding World.
Lastly, we examined the mall as a place of wonder. And what the 21st century version of that could be. No anchors or department stores. Pop-up style bazaars could be bespoke and could change out without having inventory. People would navigate through the space, and order via their smartphones, they'd checkout when done with all their shopping for the day.
Each shop would have interactive and design showcases, and become the vision of how DreamWorks would craft a mall, given unlimited freedom. Like TomorrowLand, it would become a vision for what our world could be, and it would be real.
We'd partner with Amazon to have one of the anchor spaces be an on-site fulfillment warehouse - with dragon drones that would zip your order right to you wherever you are in the mall. Keep in mind this was a couple of years before Amazon even talked about the idea of drones as delivery.